June 17, 2010

Cave Art - Agua Verde

While scrambling up the trail we speculated; why would someone climb a raggedy cliff up to a cave? The view, across the channel past Isla Santa Catalina, was one clue--it seemed to stretch endlessly—making the vantage perfect for sighting schools of migrating fish and whales, or approaching enemies. But when we entered the cave—with a low entry and high-roofed interior that was cool and spacious—we decided it seemed like the perfect place to sit out a hurricane, or summer heat wave.
The Cochimi Indians (the Baja's extinct first people) used caves such as the one we hiked up to, all over the Baja. They left behind stone tools and middens, but the artifact they are most famous for are the murals they painted on the cave walls. Some of the cave art is abstract in design, while some walls are decorated with intricate human and animal figures.
Ours, though, was red hand prints.
 I have to admit to feeling slightly ripped off by the pre-school type art. I knew it was handprints going in, but still, when I go to see art that's been preserved for a thousand or more years, I sort of expect a wow-factor. With stick figures and swirly designs you can at least contemplate what meaning the artist had in mind. With hand prints I visualized a reckless kid getting into her dad's paint, messing up the newly whitewashed wall, and then getting punished by being sent to the back of the cave, with the bats...
 The handprints were the clearest pictures. But when we examined other faded sections of wall we saw more painting—just a stroke here and a series of lines or a faded shape there, but it was enough to make our imaginations soar a bit.

If you want to follow in our footsteps take your dinghy around Punta San Pasquel (heading West) from the Agua Verde anchorage and land at the far end of the beach: N 25° 31.515' W 111° 05.709'
Walk inland (there's a rough path over some dunes and past a few cows) until you hit a dirt road. Follow it 2-3 minutes until you hit the trailhead at N25° 31.401' W 111° 05.716'. Take a right turn off the road and climb upward to the cave along a rough trail. About 15 minutes total walking time. It's not a trail for Tevas.
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